The federally funded Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a Common Core assessment consortium, issued a press release Friday that confirmed the Common Core standards and their associated tests are intended to drive curriculum.
Though developers and proponents of the Common Core initiative have argued that Common Core is merely “standards” and not “curriculum,” the latter of which local school districts can decide themselves, chief executive officer of PARCC Laura Slover said in the release, “High quality assessments go hand-in-hand with high quality instruction based on high quality standards. You cannot have one without the other. The PARCC states see quality assessments as a part of instruction, not a break from instruction.”
“The PARCC assessment system is a new way of testing that reduces time spent on ‘test prep,’ because the only way to prepare for these more sophisticated assessments is through good teaching and learning all year long,” Slover added. “The PARCC states are making decisions about test design, including length and testing time, based on thorough review and on the data from the field tests.”
Slover’s statement was part of an announcement indicating that the states belonging to the PARCC consortium will reduce the number of passages and items in the English Language Arts/Literary End-of-Year test. PARCC said reducing the number of items included to measure some standards “reduces the amount of time spent on testing and lowers testing costs, while maintaining the quality of the assessments and their ability to inform instruction and to provide reliable information on the performance of all students.”
In response to PARCC’s press release, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) website published the following statement:
The proponents of Common Core and PARCC continue to insist that tests and standards are not about curriculum, but that’s a ruse. Teachers already know that what is tested at the end of the year is what is taught in classrooms throughout the year. PARCC may not mandate one textbook or one pacing guide, but the CEO of the federally funded PARCC has admitted one thing: PARCC controls instruction and instruction is curriculum.
Jindal’s executive order suspending his state’s contracts with PARCC was blocked last week by a district judge.
“Common Core supporters know that standards drive curriculum. It’s the first thing you learn as a teacher. Take the standard. Break it apart. Teach to it,” Jindal’s chief of staff Kyle Plotkin told Breitbart News in an email statement. “Common Core supporters should step up and admit they are trying to drive curriculum. The argument about standards is a smokescreen. It’s about driving curriculum.”
As Breitbart News reported August 18, Common Core proponents also revealed that a new nonprofit organization, funded by both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust, will begin providing “free, web-based reviews of instructional materials series focusing on alignment to the Common Core and other indicators of high quality as recommended by educators, including usability, teacher support and differentiation.”
EdReports.org will first review K-8 math curricula and then other widely used curricula, including high school math and English Language Arts as well, to ensure they are aligned with the Common Core standards. Its website states, “These Consumer Reports-style reviews will highlight those instructional materials that are aligned to the higher standards states have adopted so that teachers, principals and district and state officials charged with purchasing materials can make more informed choices.”
In an interview with Breitbart News regarding the ultimate goal of controlling curriculum through standards and assessment, visiting Hoover Institution scholar Ze’ev Wurman observed Jason Riley’s 2011 Wall Street Journal article about his interview with Bill Gates.
“Jason Riley wrote that Bill Gates’ goal is ‘to leverage private money’ in a way that ‘redirects’ how tax dollars are spent inside public education,” Wurman said. “In other words, Mr. Gates is using his personal philanthropy to direct government policy, to channel taxpayers’ funds to pay for the national curriculum he personally wants.”
“And leveraging he is: through paying for Common Core, Common Core ‘validation studies,’ curricular units development, and through paying for Education First to promote textbooks and pedagogical approaches he supports,” Wurman continued.
“Yet consider that the computer technology and infrastructure needed to support just the annual testing by Common Core’s newfangled assessments is estimated at $50 per tested student every year,” he added. “Since over half of students are tested annually, we are talking about public education spending an additional one and a half billion dollars annually on technology for testing – 30 million students times 50!”
“Conservatively assuming that Microsoft will capture at least half of that market, and assuming just 40% gross margin, Bill Gates is expected to reel in every year in extra profit (not revenue) as much as all he spent on supporting Common Core throughout the years,” Wurman said. “I’m not arguing Bill Gates wants necessarily to harm education for his personal profit. But isn’t it nice when you can convince yourself that what’s good for Microsoft is good for America, even when studies show it’s not necessarily so?”